Tales of animals that have undergone reconstructive surgery, or end up with prosthetic attachments, always make the news: wheels in place of tortoise legs [example] and that sort of thing. As reported in the Mail online (and other sources) a few days ago, during December 2008 an unfortunate 3-m long, wild American crocodile Crocodylus acutus was run over by a car, in Florida. The animal sustained substantial head injuries: apparently its snout was ‘hanging limp’ and it was unable to feed. It was captured and taken to the Miami MetroZoo [images below © Barcroft Media].
Here, plans were made to repair the animal and, hopefully, help it on the road to recovery. Douglas Mader, of Marathon Veterinary Hospital, performed surgery and bolted metal plates along the length of the animal’s snout, held in place with 41 metal screws. Articles say that ‘RoboCroc’ is showing signs of recovery, but he’s not out of the woods yet. It sounds like the poor animal’s injuries would definitely have led to its death, had people not intervened. However, it’s worth noting that crocs can survive with the most appalling injuries: Steve Irwin reported a Saltwater croc C. porosus in which substantial parts of the lower jaws were missing (Irwin 1996). Despite this impairment, the animal was in good condition, and survived by exploiting a cattle station rubbish dump ‘where cattle offal, road-killed wallabies and feral pig carcasses were dumped’ (Irwin 1996, p. 338). It was still capable of some predation, as the animal only came to official attention after it attacked a killed a dog. Numerous other cranial injuries have been reported in crocs (Iordansky 1973).
I’m also interested in the fact that the Floridan crocodile was run over by a car: this has me wondering how often crocodilians get hit by cars, and what percentage of mortality this might account for. I found one news article (here) that discusses incidents from Kakudu, but, after a quick search, I can’t find any hard data. It’s conceivable that encounters with traffic are most frequent in places like the Everglades: here, a relatively large crocodilian population is combined with a high density of roads and vehicles [adajacent image of roadkilled alligator from here]
Finally, sorry if you were expecting something a bit more dramatic, given the animal’s name. When I told my son that there was a crocodile called ‘RoboCroc’, he was expecting something that looked more like a scaly decepticon than something with slim metal strips attached to its otherwise normal head. Oh well, you can’t please everyone.
A lot to come over the next few weeks, if only I have time to publish it.
For previous Tet Zoo articles on crocodilians see…
- The world’s largest modern crocodilian skull
- Do crocodilians (sometimes) feed their young?
- Alligators eat fruit
- Leopard vs crocodile (better late than never)
- Move over Theropoda, Sebecosuchia rules
- Tet Zoo picture of the day # 14
Ref – –
Iordansky, N. N. 1973. The skull of the Crocodilia. In Gans, C. & Parsons, T. S. (eds) Biology of the Reptilia. Volume 4. Academic Press (New York), pp. 201-262.
Irwin, S. 1996. Survival of a large Crocodylus porosus despite significant lower jaw loss. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 39, 338.